Friday, Dec. 04, 2009
Dear Diary:

The moral of the story: be very, very careful what you wish for.

I've mentioned that we have had a freakish November, a month without any snow and stunningly warm (for us) temperatures. This has bled through into December. I've felt that I should be outside doing something, that looking out on a green world gets my gardening mojo working overtime.

I should never have said that out loud.

Monday I was reading through the local Kijiji announcements. You never know what you're going to see listed--people have an amazing amount of crapola unexpected treasures they try to sell to other folks.

So imagine my shock when I saw an ad for a man living about half an hour from us who wanted to sell some used interlocking paving brick. Gray interlocking paving brick. For a pitifully small amount of money.

People this was a sign.

I know what my three loyal readers are thinking. They're thinking, "Marn, how can this be a sign?"

Well, here's why. One of the biggest challenges when dicking around with designing a landscape is trying to foresee how visitors are going to respond to it. When we built our new pond by the house we built two sets of stairs up to it through our stone wall. It was insanely challenging, but we felt that would give folks clear access routes to the pond.

Was all the backbreaking effort worth it?

In a word, no.

Every person who's visited our home since we've put in the pond ignores the stone wall stair steps. They either march up the road behind the pond, the road that goes to the spousal unit's workshop, or they stroll through a newly dug and as yet unplanted flower bed to the pond.

So much for my mad gardening skillz.

The spousal unit and I have been hashing over the situation. I felt the best solution was to call the stone steps an epic fail and build a walkway through the middle of the garden bed that people have been marching through anyhow. Let human nature dictate the landscape.

The spousal unit pointed out that's all well and good, but an interlocking paving brick walkway costs mucho buckazoids and we don't have mucho buckazoids.

So when I saw the Kijiji ad for the gray interlocking paving brick at a pitifully small price I almost wept. Pitifully small prices we can handle. Gray would echo the gray in the rocks that surround the pond. With no little trepidation I e-mailed the guy. It was still for sale. He had exactly 60 square feet of interlocking brick which no one else wanted. The walkway I wanted to make would take 60 square feet of interlocking paving brick.

It was mine. The seller said he would deliver it Tuesday.

Which left the teensy tiny detail of telling the spousal unit. Yes, I would have to break the news that we were about to receive 60 square feet of interlocking gray paving brick and uh, could we dig a massive trench a foot deep, line it with eight inches of the brook stone left over from my pond?

And, uh, then could we line it with another inch of crushed rock left over from another project? Huh? Could we? Huh?

How about tamping all that down several times, a backbreaking job? Then there would be landscape fabric, and then we'd have to go down to the home farm and dig enough sand to line the massive trench with enough of the grainy goodness that it would tamp down to a two inch layer.

And then, of course, the brick would have to be laid, the sides built up, the cracks filled with sand � and we had a three day window to do all this in before we slipped into freezing temperatures. One of those days would be pouring rain.

This would have broken a lesser man. The spousal unit merely winced.

We are seriously disturbed peopleThe spousal unit's brother has a landscaping business. Because he is much saner than we are, he's stopped work for the season and left his small tractor down at the home farm for the winter. So the spousal unit borrowed it and Wednesday was spent digging the big ass trench.

The tractor roughed it out, but we spent a fair bit of time with shovesl and the pickaxe fine tuning things.

Thursday it rained. Sane people would have taken that as a sign and stayed indoors by the fire. But because it was 10C (about 50F) we soldiered on and got the crushed rock in place and tamped. No pictures because it was raining too hard to take my camera outside.

Us? Crazy? Whatever makes you say that.

This morning dawned warm and sunny. Sane people would have relished this bonus round, gone for a relaxing stroll in the woods. The spousal unit dug three tractor bucket's worth of sand. I helped spread it and raked it, he did the tamping and corrective smoothing.

I'm sure he's wondering just how this happenedThis would be the spousal unit part way through the laying of the brick. I schlep the brick to him by the wheelbarrow full, he does the work that involves actual skill.

I'm not sure, but I think that from the expression on his face he may be bitterly regretting the fact that he has actual skills.

Or that he married me.

So many things to regret.

By lunch time we were well over half way there. (The brick looks mottled because some of it was still wet from yesterdays heavy rains.)

Progress by lunch.

By four o'clock today the spousal unit got all the brick laid. We shovelled and tamped brook stone on either side of it to pack it in place and add more drainage. We shovelled soil up to the brook stone. The spousal unit cut a piece of 4 x 4, drilled it with holes and pounded rebar through it into the ground to hold the paving bricks in place.

Almost doneWhile he did that I swept sand over the bricks and worked it into the cracks to help stabilize them. (The walkway has a yellowish cast in this picture because our sand is yellow. It grays once it's weathered for a while.)

For tonight we shoved cement blocks in front to hold everything in place. There's many inches of brookstone, crushed rock and sand under that walkway for drainage and it would roll out of the bottom without a stopper of some sort.

The spousal unit thinks we're done until next spring. I've already mentally picked out the really big ass rock I want to put in to replace those cement blocks and make a natural stair to the walkway. He does not know this.

I'm giving him tonight to rest up and recharge, bask in the glow of a job well done. Tomorrow, over breakfast, I will casually mention the big ass rock and how good it would look at the foot of the new walkway.

I'm hoping to coax him to get the big tractor and haul this rock in place by noon tomorrow.

Me? Scheming? Whatever makes you say that?


Mileage on the Marnometer: 143 miles.

Going Nowhere Collaboration

Goal for 2009: 500 miles

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